Model Boat Racing in 1911

Toy Motor-Boat Races

Racing with toy motor-boats may seem at first sight a mere pastime, but it is in reality one of the most important forms of sport known, for from the races with these diminutive craft, ideas are gained that are invaluable in improving the boats that are used for actually carrying passengers on pleasure trips.

In fact so important has the sport of model motor-boat racing become in England that regular regattas are held, encouraged and fostered by government officials and attended by naval engineers, and cups are presented for the owners of boats that show the most speed and the finest qualities of workmanship and originality of device.

A pond was set apart in a London park especially for the convenience of the motor-boat enthusiasts, and here there gathered a great concourse of spectators to witness the races. Some of the boats were rather crude-looking craft so far as outward appearances went, but these showed greater speed than did some of the more pretentious boats, and as the prizes were awarded for both speed and the general make-up of the model, there were trophies for every class of owner and designer.

The manner of running off the races was for the owner to start his boat going, with the rudder set for the stake. It was his business so to start the little boat that it would make a bee line for the finish flag. This was, of course, not always possible, and some of the speediest boats lost because of the erratic manner in which they persisted in running counter to their owners’ intention. Instead of speeding toward the stakeboat, some of these boats would swerve from the course and run full tilt against the bank, as though bent on self-destruction. Such action, of course, lost the owner of the model the race. It was possible to use some measure of seamanship of the handling of the little boats, for the setting of the rudder and the starting of the boat so that the run should be made in a straight line, counted for a great deal in winning prizes.

It is suggested that a better way of running off these model motor-boat races would be to have the course a circular one, with men stationed at certain points to catch and redirect the boats over the course, so as to keep them going in the right direction. As the sport is still in its infancy, it will require experimentation of this sort to determine the ideal method of running a model motor-boat regatta.

(Transcribed from World To-Day, February 1911, pp. 238-239.)

[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page —LF]